Monday, 25 March 2019

New communities for Garden of England?

Garden communities are back in the news after another possible Kent scheme hit the headlines, and it’s not Otterpool Park.

It appears Swale Borough Council (SBC) is moving towards backing plans for a garden community with 11,500 new homes in Highsted Valley, close to Kent Science Park and the M2.

According to the KM Group, Swale appears to be moving away from backing schemes at Faversham for 2,500 homes, Sheldwich for 5,000 and Bobbing for 2,500 – if correct it looks like the council is adopting an ‘eggs in one basket’ approach.

And with SBC staring down the barrel of having to deliver 1,063 new homes a year, every year until 2030, it’s easy to see why such a large scheme is attractive. The questions though are: can the location support the growth in employment needed to sustain the housing numbers? Would it be better to spread the risk and development across the borough?

So why so big?
Well the answer is you need a quantum of development if you are going to fund the infrastructure inevitably required to create a sustainable community.

In the case of Swale, the golden egg is the longstanding aspiration to build a link road and Junction 5a on the M2 to connect to the already built Northern Relief Road, in order to unlock Sittingbourne by providing two motorway junctions and the full employment potential at Kent Science Park.

The scheme, being promoted by Quinn Estates, would also apparently deliver shops, GP surgeries and up to four primary schools on farmland.

From personal experience, with Maxim having worked with the team at Kent Science Park the last time significant plans came forward for a link road and new homes, there’s bound to be significant local opposition especially from the residents of the local villages – the battle lines will no doubt be soon drawn.

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